As members of the public rushed to their favourite restaurants and fast-food outlets yesterday, ahead of the new COVID restrictions that went into effect at midnight yesterday, some proprietors were looking for ways to sell their products during the lockdown.
The owner of a store at Aboutique Mall, Port-of-Spain, said she was able to stuff a few suitcases with items to take home, which she intends to sell online during the next month.
The woman, who has been operating a modest variety store for the past two years, said, “I have to trust in God for everything.”
Although she is unhappy about the new measures announced by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley that all malls will remain closed until May 23, she admitted, “I was not able to prepare for the last shutdown and all my goods were left in the mall. This time around, I still wasn’t able to prepare, as the mall closed at 5.30 pm and he would have spoken about it from 2.30 pm, so I did not have enough time to pack everything.”
Her items included wallets, perfumes, handbags and clothes.
The Petit Valley woman, who did not want to be identified, said, “Next weekend is Mother’s Day and people will still want to get gifts, so I will be selling online.”
Uncertain of her business future after May 23, the proprietress explained, “The last time, we had to pay 25 per cent of our rent when we returned to open our businesses and I do not know what will happen this time around.”
While the mall will be closed to the public today, the operators of Aboutique Mall have agreed to facilitate business owners wanting to remove their goods between 8 am and 10 am.
Meanwhile, business owner Vidal Hosein, who operates a clothing store at Gulf City Mall, revealed, “We don’t know how we will be coping for the next month because we will still have to pay rent, so all finances will be on halt and then we have to pay the rent for the mall.”
He said the future of employees was also on their shoulders.
“The workers will have to be paid obviously because they will be home, so it will be a major loss for us because we will have to pay from our pockets basically.”
Verne Dubois, Maraval
“I think it is good because the cases are going up. It is on the rise and this is for our safety.”
Standing in line to stock up on pet food and rice for his animals, the taxi driver sympathised, “People are suffering all now.”
He said the first set of restrictions in early 2020 had resulted in some persons being unable to pay their rent and maintain their families, with some having to move out during the middle of the night in some cases.
Dubois said, “There is no help for the poor.”
Dwinel Warner, Belmont
She said she went to the grocery yesterday in an attempt to get ahead of the record number of shoppers expected today and over this weekend. Warner said the shock announcement by the PM had created a sense of panic among the populace. Concerned about the record number of cases announced yesterday, she said, “I am doing all that is asked of me and all that I can do. I am hoping that this will be enough until these restrictions are sorted out.”
Warner said there is a general fear that these alarming numbers will overwhelm the healthcare system.
“We don’t want it to reach the position where no one can get service at these hospitals and then we have to think about the front line workers as well.”
Peppy, Belle Vue
“People have to go about their routine as it is month-end and he could have waited for them to go to the grocery and market.”
Commenting on the lines of shoppers waiting to enter the grocery and those wanting to get their last taste of fast food, Peppy said although he was alarmed by the rising cases, the question that needed to be asked was, “If this last for ten more years, what will we do? Do we keep closing and opening back the economy?”
He added, “People who have money can go along with it but those who paying rent…they will be worse off.”